Distributed Computing I
I don't know why I haven't blipped this before. It seems a natural for me now that I think of it. Distributed computing was cooked up in the 1990s or so by some geeks who needed massive computing power but no access or dollars to use the supercomputers out there. So, clever as they are, they chopped up the work into millions of little bits and offered them to laypersons around the world to create a virtual supercomputer using personal computers around the world.
Essentially, much computing power and time is wasted in idleness, screensavers, etc. Why not harness that to do science, math, astronomy, biology, and so forth? SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) may be the progenitor but if not, certainly the first mega-user/popularizer. Streams of data from the sky are piped into computers like mine, crunched, sent back, over and over again. Nifty graphics are concocted that may or may not mean anything but look cool - such as this one here for Clean Energy.
Lots of super-computing calculations are needed so my Mac does some crunching then gets another bit of data. I subscribe to World Community Grid which has lots of different projects to pull data from. Cancer research, protein folding, sustainable water, AIDS research, etc. It's all good work and my computers over the years at work and home have crunched a lot of data as part of various teams. I currently delegate my points to the York University Team. The points are just for fun and enable one to develop stats and bragging rights.
To explore and donate computer time, explore World Community Grid or SETI@home for starters. There's lots out there and your computer time is customizable to your needs. It's quite safe and for good causes. I started with SETI in 1999 and did it for years, paused, then restarted with a new profile. I have had no problems ever. Do consider donating some of your computer's downtime or active time (it can be run in the background, too).
I'll post other screen photos or screenshots soon to show some of the different projects.